Nisbett History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Nisbett family roots are found in the Boernician Clan of ancient Scotland. They lived in any of several places in the Border region of Scotland called Nesbitt or Nisbit. There were hamlets of East Nisbet and West Nisbet in Berwickshire, a village of Nisbet in Roxburghshire, a Nesbit in Northumberland, and a township of Nesbit in County Durham. [1] These place names derive from the Middle English words nese, meaning "nose," and bit, meaning a "piece of ground;" as such, these place names are thought to have referred to geographic features resembling a nose. The surname may well have arisen independently from these different place names.

Early Origins of the Nisbett family

The surname Nisbett was first found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland where they held a family seat from early times and King David I confirmed a charter (now in the archives of Durham Cathedral) granting the lands of Nisbet to Aldan de Nisbet, the founder of the line of Nisbet in 1139. According to family lore, they descend from Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria (d. 1073).

The family is "from the old barony of Nesbit in the parish of Edrom, Berwickshire. William de Nesebite witnessed a confirmation of the town lands of Nesbite to the Priory of Coldingham by Patrick, first Earl of Dunbar (Raine, 116), Dominus Robert de Nesbit, miles, witnessed a charter by William de Horuirden to the Abbey of Kelso, c. 1160-1200." [2]

Early History of the Nisbett family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nisbett research. Another 308 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1255, 1296, 1340, 1433, 1446, 1456, 1493, 1594, 1632, 1580, 1660, 1630, 1641, 1559, 1605, 1625, 1627, 1685, 1657, 1725, 1609, 1687, 1664, 1677 and are included under the topic Early Nisbett History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nisbett Spelling Variations

In the Middles Ages scribes spelled names by their sound. Often a name was written under a different spelling variation each time it was recorded. Nisbett has appeared as Nisbet, Nysbit, Nispett, Nispet, Nisbit, Nisbett, Nessbitt, Nessbit, Nesbyth, Nesbitt, Naibet, Nesbeth, Nesbet, Naisbitt, Naisbit, Nesbett, Naisbett, Naibett and many more.

Early Notables of the Nisbett family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Murdoch Nisbet (d. 1559) of Ayrshire, a notary public in the diocese of Glasgow, best known for his Scots translations of the Bible. Philip Nesbit, of that Ilk was knighted in March 1605 by the Earl of Dunfermline, Lord Chancellor of Scotland; he represented Berwickshire...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nisbett Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Nisbett family to Ireland

Some of the Nisbett family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 92 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Nisbett migration to the United States +

The ancestors of Boernician-Scottish settlers dot North America even today. They settled all along the east coast when they came over, but some went north as United Empire Loyalists at the time of the War of Independence. However, these strong lines endured as Scottish families in the United States and Canada have rediscovered much of the heritage that was taken from them centuries ago. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Nisbett, or a variant listed above:

Nisbett Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Nisbett and Elizabeth Nesbitt, bonded emigrants sent to America in 1751
  • Jonathon Nisbett, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [3]
  • Robert Nisbett, who arrived in South Carolina in 1772 [3]
Nisbett Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Archibald Nisbett, who arrived in America in 1803 [3]

New Zealand Nisbett migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Nisbett Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Emily Esther Nisbett, (b. 1843), aged 16, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Mary Anne" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th August 1859 [4]
  • Catherine Nisbett, aged 19, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1873

Contemporary Notables of the name Nisbett (post 1700) +

  • Richard E. Nisbett, American Distinguished Professor of social psychology at the University of Michigan
  • William P. Nisbett, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1888; Candidate for Presidential Elector for Michigan, 1900; Mayor of Big Rapids, Michigan; Elected 1908 [5]
  • Trevor Nisbett (b. 1957), Australian businessman, executive and former Australian rules footballer, CEO of the West Coast Eagles (1999–)
  • Patrice Nisbett, St. Kitts and Nevis politician, current foreign minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, former Attorney General
  • Margaret Nisbett MBE (b. 1929), Australian coloratura soprano
  • Grant Nisbett, New Zealand sports broadcaster and TAB media liaison
  • Rev. Canon Thomas Norman Nisbett OBE (b. 1925), the first Black Anglican priest of the Anglican Church of Bermuda
  • Steve "Grizzly" Nisbett (b. 1948), English drummer for the reggae group Steel Pulse from 1977 to 2001
  • Louisa Cranstoun Nisbett (1812-1858), English actress whose stage name was Miss Mordaunt


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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